Should women be preachers? This week on The Roys Report, we’ll explore this question, which recently grabbed headlines, following comments by well-known pastor, John MacArthur. When asked to give a pithy response about the preaching of Beth Moore, MacArthur responded, “Go Home,” This sparked major controversy. But what should Christians think about women preaching? And what does the Bible say? Join us for The Roys Report, this Saturday morning at 11 on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life, and on Sunday night at 7 on AM 560 The Answer!
Dr. John Dickson
John started out as a professional singer— songwriter but now works as a writer, speaker, historian and media presenter. He is the author of more than 15 books, and the presenter of three TV documentaries on the history of Christianity. He was Founding Director of Australia’s Centre for Public Christianity from 2007—2017. He teaches a course on the origins of Christianity at the University of Sydney and is the Distinguished Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Public Christianity at Ridley College, Melbourne. He is a Visiting Academic in the Faculty of Classics at Oxford University (2017- 2020), researching memory techniques in ancient education.
Dr. Lina AbuJamra
Lina AbuJamra is a Pediatric ER doctor and founder of Living with Power Ministries. Her vision is to bring hope to the world by connecting biblical answers to everyday life. A popular Bible teacher, blogger, and conference speaker, Lina has authored several books including: Thrive, Stripped, and Resolved. You can listen to Lina’s podcast on iTunes or Podbean and find her boosting your faith all over social media. Lina is the host of Today’s Single Christian on Moody Radio and of Morning Minutes, a daily audio devotional available on her website.
Note: This transcript has been edited slightly for continuity.
ANNOUNCER: In the midst of all of today’s noise and confusion, we need a voice that cuts through the chaos to bring wisdom and clarity. Welcome to The Roys Report with Julie Roys—an hour-long show exploring critical issues related to faith and culture from a uniquely Christian perspective. Now, here’s your host, Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: Women can do just about anything a man can do in our society. Yet, within many churches and denominations, women are barred from preaching. Is this biblical as some Christian leaders argue or is it misogynist, as some others say? Welcome to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University. I’m Julie Roys. And if you follow Christian media at all, you know there’s been quite a controversy, raging right now, concerning women preachers in the Evangelical Church. It all started about five months ago on Mother’s Day. That’s when popular women’s Bible teacher Beth Moore preached in a Southern Baptist Church. Now the official position of the Southern Baptist Church is that women cannot hold the office of a pastor. However, what Moore did was kind of step into this gray area of women preaching who are not pastors. And wow, did it create a stir. Christian leaders, for and against women preachers, began going at it on Facebook and Twitter. Several prominent pastors and bloggers wrote articles. And just as things were beginning to die down, John MacArthur, a popular author, pastor and host of the radio program Grace To You, ignited it again at an event at his church in mid-October. MacArthur said something many believed was disrespectful and demeaning of Moore. It happened while MacArthur was participating in a discussion on stage with Phil Johnson. Johnson is the Executive Director of Grace To You and moderating that discussion was Todd Friel. He’s the host of Wretched, a conservative Christian radio and TV ministry. Here’s a recording of that interaction.
TODD FRIEL: I will say a word. And then the three of you need to give a one or pithy response to the word. Are you ready?
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR: I feel like I’m being set up.
PHIL JOHNSON: That isn’t always the case with Todd. Watch out for him. He will try to embarrass you.
TODD FRIEL: We’re going to start out. This is just kind of touching your toes, easy, easy setup for you. Let’s begin with an easy one. The word is Beth Moore.
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR: That’s two words.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Literalist.
TODD FRIEL: All right. Dr. MacArthur, Beth Moore?
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR: How many words do I get?
TODD FRIEL: You know, actually, and before you answer this, please think carefully this time. Because last time, you did a one-word association, the guy wrote a book about it.
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR: I got in a lot of trouble.
TODD FRIEL: And we don’t want that.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I was thinking of the same word.
TODD FRIEL: OK?
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR: Go home.
AUDIENCE: (Vigorous and extended laughter.)
TODD FRIEL: Oh, ho ho ho!
JULIE ROYS: Well, you can see why some might have found MacArthur’s comments offensive. Whether you agree or disagree with women preachers, many argued that that response was condescending. So about two weeks ago, MacArthur preached a sermon clarifying his position. And here’s the short clip where he begins by reading a portion of 1 Timothy 2. And then he says . . .
PASTOR JOHN MACARTHUR: So, women are called to modesty, discretion, good works, godliness. And what does that look like? It means that quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. Entire submissiveness. “But I do not allow women to teach or exercise authority over a man but to remain quiet.” That is so absolute. It’s unbending. No preaching, no teaching, no leading position in the church. You say, “Well that’s again, this is quirky Paul.” Is this just Paul? No. Look at verse 13. This was designed by God. “For it was Adam who was first created and then Eve.” This is the Divine order. It was Adam who was first created. And then Eve. God created Adam. He was alone. He took a rib out of Adam He made a woman and the woman was to be Adam’s helper. But not only was this God’s creative design, it was basically affirmed in the fall. Verse 14, “It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman, being deceived, fell into transgression.” This is a very severe warning—very severe warning. A woman out from under the protection of her head is vulnerable. Because of typical women’s sensibilities—passions and compassion. Because of their tendencies toward kindness, mercy and care, they become more vulnerable when unprotected. That is, that is a reality today that is in no short supply of being exhibited by the fast number of women running around single, who have neither a father, nor a husband, to protect them from deception.
JULIE ROYS: Wow. So what do you think of that? Do women’s tendencies towards kindness, compassion and care make them more vulnerable to deception? Is that why women shouldn’t preach or teach? And is the restriction Paul places on women as absolute as John MacArthur says? Well, joining me to discuss the issue is John Dixon. John is a Christian apologist and minister. He’s also the author of Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons. And John is on the phone right now from his home in Australia. So John, welcome.
DR. JOHN DICKSON: Lovely to talk with you, Julie.
JULIE ROYS: Also, I want to mention that in the second segment, Lina AbuJamra will be joining me. Lina is an author, speaker and founder of Living with Power ministries. But pertinent to our discussion today, she’s also a woman who has preached in churches before. So, she’ll be joining us in just a bit. But, John, let me start with—I would love to just get your reaction to John MacArthur’s statements. What do you think of those?
DR JOHN DICKSON: Well, as someone who has, in the past, looked up to John MacArthur and, you know, admired his boldness and commitment to Biblical truth, I found it really quite disturbing. The expression, “go home,” followed by sort of rapturous applause and hoots from the audience is disturbing to me. And maybe it’s a, it’s a thing that makes more sense in America than it does in Australia. But if you tell a woman, “go home,” as the one thing you say to them, this is demeaning. This is dehumanizing. And then for the cheers to follow, it just was a double whammy. And I felt ashamed. You know, I come from that strong, evangelical, Bible-focus tradition. And the thought that it can lead to this, you know, was worrying to me. You know, even leaving aside this scandal about John MacArthur, I thought, “Man, is this same attitude in me somewhere?”
JULIE ROYS: Hmm. Well, that’s a good place to be introspective on these things for sure. And I know there’s a big discussion right now because the Southern Baptist Church has been embroiled in a sex abuse scandal and cover up. And you know, some Paige Patterson, had an issue with him—and misogyny and misogynistic type statements. And people saying, “Well, is this just part of being complementarian?” And for those of you who are listening, there’s basically two camps. There’s egalitarian, which believe that women are, and men, are equal in worth but really the same in function. Complementarian would say that you’re equal and worth but complementary or different in function. And what I think’s interesting today is that John, you are a complementarian. So you believe that there are different roles. But when it comes specifically to preaching, you feel, unlike John MacArthur (and I think there is a whole bit to unpack with just attitudes and some of those things) but putting those aside. If we go just to the Scripture that he quoted, which was from 1 Timothy 2:12 & 13, you feel that what he is saying is an absolute prohibition isn’t an absolute prohibition. And we have, you know, just a couple of minutes to start unpacking that. We can unpack more of it on the other side of the break. But start to get into that. Why do you believe that 1 Timothy 2 isn’t necessarily an absolute prohibition against women doing any preaching in the church?
DR. JOHN DICKSON: Well, the first thing to say is that I don’t think we should fall into our tribes on this. I think when Godly, God-believing evangelicals come to different conclusions on something, you know, after a humble, diligent study. That should be a sign to us all to cut each other slack. You know, not to be down on the hard egalitarian, not to be down on the hard complementarian, but to cut each other slack. But in terms of the substantial issue, it’s correct that 1 Timothy 2:12 says, Paul said that he does not permit a woman to teach and have authority. Now most scholars think that that’s the same thing—to have teaching authority. That’s what the Greek probably means. Now, I don’t think there’s any way around that. The question is—what is teaching? And everyone knows that there are many words in Scripture for what we might call “a sermon”—for publicly speaking to the congregation. And they are admonishing, preaching, teaching, evangelizing, exalting, prophesying, and I could go on and on. And the interesting thing is, these are different words in English and Greek. And Paul explicitly calls them different. In say, Romans 12, Paul says that exhorting, prophesying and teaching are different. He actually uses the word “different.” And so I want to say— Okay, Paul said he does not permit a woman to teach. Does that rule out prophesying, exhorting, preaching, evangelizing and all the other activities that you can do from a pulpit?
JULIE ROYS: Okay, hold that thought. We have to go to break but when we come back, we’re going to pick up with that. Again, speaking with me is John Dixon, author of Hearing Her Voice: The Case for Women Giving Sermons. Also joining me in the next segment, will be Lina AbuJamra. I’m Julie Roys. You’re listening to The Roys Report and we will be right back.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to The Roys Report. Here’s your host, Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: Should women be preachers? Welcome back to The Roys Report? I’m Julie Roys. And today we’re wrestling with this hotly debated issue in the church that’s recently grabbed headlines. As we discussed in the first segment, prominent author and pastor, John MacArthur, told popular women’s Bible teacher, Beth Moore to “go home.” And that touched off a firestorm of controversy, which is still raging. And I think there’s more to that issue than just theology because MacArthur said things that some would say go beyond what the Scripture says. And we’ll talk about that later in the show.
But biblically, one of the main passages is 1Timothy 2:11-13. And in that passage, the Apostle Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man. She must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived. It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” MacArthur interpreted that passage to be an absolute prohibition on women preaching in church ever. But my guest today, John Dickson, challenges that view. John explains in his book, Hearing Her Voice: The Case for Women Giving Sermons, his entire position. And I’m going to be giving away five copies of that book today. To enter that giveaway, just go to JulieRoys.com/giveaway. So, John is joining me on the phone from Australia. But also joining me now, in studio, is Lina AbuJamra. Lina is an author, speaker and founder of Living with Power ministry. She’s also someone who’s preached in the church. So, Lina, welcome.
LINA ABUJAMRA, MD: Hey, good to be here.
JULIE ROYS: So, I want to get your perspective on what John is describing right now. But you are kind of in the middle John. So, I want to give you an opportunity to finish your explanation of what you think “teaching” really means in that 1 Timothy passage.
DR. JOHN DICKSON: Yeah, well, it’s the 1 Timothy 2:12 that said I do not permit a woman to prophesy in church. We’d all be really zeroing in on that word and saying—okay, what does “prophesying” mean? And that’s the activity women are not allowed to do. But there are so many other kinds of speaking in church that clearly wouldn’t be a prohibition on other kinds of speaking. But the fact that it uses the word “teaching,” suddenly we generalize and say—oh, that refers to everything from the pulpit. And I want to say, hang on, who said that? And we know that women can prophesy in church. 1 Corinthians 11 says so. Paul says nothing about women exhorting the church. And that word “to give an exhortation” in the New Testament is much closer to what we call a “sermon” today. And Paul doesn’t forbid women to do that. He does seem to forbid “teaching.” It doesn’t say preaching, it says teaching. And so, then you’ve got to ask the question—what does teaching, “didasko,” the Greek word, mean in the pastoral epistles? That is 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. And it’s been long known, in New Testament scholarship, that this word “didasko” to teach, does not mean everything we would mean by the English term, “communicating some idea to another.” It really is focused on preserving and passing on the oral traditions of the apostles. It doesn’t refer to expounding a scriptural text. It refers to handing over the apostolic doctrines, which in the period 1 Timothy was written, were not written down yet. There were no gospels written down. Most of the letters of the New Testament hadn’t been written down and certainly circulated. And so, the way the traditions of the apostles ended up being taught to congregations, was through this practice of oral tradition—where people were entrusted with the words of the apostles. And they were to repeat them and make sure that the congregations learned them. But that was a separate activity, from the exhortations that anyone might do, including women, in the church meeting. And so, this is what I think Paul is forbidding. And it’s sort of drawing on nerdy New Testament scholarship, where this is widely accepted—that this is the meaning of “teaching.” It’s just that I try to bring that meaning a teaching to bear on the question of what exactly does Paul forbid? And I don’t think it’s what we call, “the sermon.”
JULIE ROYS: Hmm. And I, I’ve always wondered this, like, when we when we argue this. I mean, in the first century church, were they having sermons, you know, like we have on Sunday morning? And this is somewhat culturally determined, isn’t it?
DR. JOHN DICKSON: It is. They were almost certainly having exhortations. This expression, “word of exhortation” does seem to refer to a speech that is given in the congregation. And Jews used this expression, but so did Paul and other New Testament passages refer to this, “word of exhortation.” But it’s not called teaching. And so, the synagogue had a kind of what we might call sermon, or maybe they had several of them, but they at least had one. But that doesn’t say that they didn’t have other kinds of speaking, as well. And Paul indicates this in 1 Corinthians 11, where he has women prophesying and praying in church. No problem. Absolutely no problem. So, I think we need to do the harder work of working out what is “prophesying?” And is prophesying closer to what we call a sermon? And what is teaching? And how does that have a role in the church today?
JULIE ROYS: Okay. But you’re saying teaching, from your understanding, at least used there, is more this “authoritative teaching,” which will be passing on the apostle’s tradition, which is pre-the-written New Testament, correct? Am I understanding that right?
DR. JOHN DICKSON: Yep, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
JULIE ROYS: Okay. So, Lina, you have preached in church, but you’re not egalitarian.
LINA ABUJAMRA, MD: Correct. Yeah, I mean, my background is extremely conservative, in every way. And I grew up cutting my teeth, learning how to teach, listening to John MacArthur sermons. I mean, that was really the I would prepare Bible studies reading his sermons on and literally like, he’s got a sermon for verse. I mean, thousands of hours probably spent reading his materials. So really admire him and really look up to him in many ways. And honestly, I wasn’t probably as offended by that clip as most people were at the beginning because probably because my tradition growing up in sort of a, you know, hyper conservative, you know, complementarian background. And being Lebanese and sort of having a bit of a ER mentality, I’m used to people speaking their minds, especially if they believe something. But the more you listen to it, the more it’s offensive. But honestly, like I sort of gave him credit of okay, well, at least he stands for what he, you know, for what he believes. I’ve always respected that about him. Even in other conversations, like the tongues and, you know, there are many, many people I admire who are continuationists. And, you know, and so I think there’s a layer to this just because John MacArthur says it doesn’t mean it’s the Holy Grail. And I think there is a sense where conservatives can get so attached to a teacher or speaker that it’s like, that’s part of it. He said it, now I believe it, that settles it. Then I think that’s, you know, sort of part of this whole conversation—is this awakening to, “Hey, just because he said it doesn’t mean we all have to believe it, right?” Or vice-versa. Whoever your favorite teacher is. And I think what I appreciate about John here, to walking us through this, is it sort of gets you to sort of think that there are some very educated people who are studying these things and coming to different conclusions. And we’re still brothers and sisters in Christ. And I think that probably the perspective about the MacArthur—and by the way, I found more offensive his sermon after than I did his comments about Beth Moore. Because his opinions weren’t just, you know, so much that he didn’t like one person. And was sort of, you know, you could say, well, maybe they had a feud. You can, you know, he maybe stepped out of his, you know, usual diplomacy. He doesn’t know we’re living in 2019 where everything is heard everywhere and etc., etc., or maybe he did. But the sermon was really a reflection of what he believes about womanhood. And as ironically, again, and I think you sort of step back and listen and try to give a person a benefit of the doubt. But there was so many layers to it where I really realized, like, I listened to that sermon wanting to find even more reason to believe what he teaches. And again, my bias is complementarianism and conservatism. And honestly, I walked away from it thinking, I think John MacArthur would think I am Satan. I mean, literally, because I’m a doctor, I’m independent, I’m single, I’m speaking on Sunday mornings at the invitation of churches. And so, I can’t base my theology and my life and my conviction on what John MacArthur says. I have to base it on what God says to me through His Word. So, John, I appreciate your perspective, because it’s sort of founded on the Word of God and you’re thinking through this. And there are many who have commented on, even the cultural setting of when Corinthians was written and Timothy was written and how the woman would speak. They weren’t educated so they didn’t know things. And say what, there was this “loudness” in the environment at the church. And so, Paul’s way of saying be quiet and let your husbands teach you at home because you can’t focus in the setting. Of whereas now, we all have our phones, we can Google things. You don’t need a person to teach us because we’re all educated, etc., etc. So, there’s so many cultural layers to this that I think are important to understand that I think were ignored in that sermon and in the comments.
JULIE ROYS: Although, I would guess, an egalitarian would more say, “Well, this could just be culturally determined.” Complementarian—they’re going to really hone in on the part of that verse that says what happened with Adam and Eve, you know, saying, “Well, they’re going back to creation. So, this means this is for all time. This is not a culturally determined thing.” Am I right with that, John?
DR. JOHN DICKSON: Well, they do. But the more I studied this passage, the clearer it is to me that Paul is just using that Old Testament story from Genesis 2 and 3, as a kind of illustration of what he’s saying. Because his point is that he wants the male teaching elder to be the backstop for the apostolic doctrine in the congregation. Whoever does the preaching, I mean, you know, lots of people can engage in preaching. But the backstop, the person who has teaching authority, who protects the word of the apostles, in the congregation, is the male elder. And then he says, now let’s think of Genesis 2 and 3.
JULIE ROYS: Okay, hold there. We need to go to break but when we come back, we’re going to continue this conversation—fascinating conversation with John Dickson, also Lina AbuJamra. I’m Julie Roys. You’re listening to The Roys Report. We will be right back.
ANNOUNCER: More of The Roys Report. Once again, here’s Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: What does the Bible really say about women preachers? Welcome back to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University. I’m Julie Roys. And today we’re exploring this issue, which divides an awful lot of Christians. Some say, the Bible strictly prohibits women from doing any preaching at all, while others say that’s a misinterpretation of what the Bible says. What do you think on this issue? I’d love to hear what you have to say. And you can join the live online discussion through social media. To get to us on Facebook, just go to Facebook.com/ReachJulieRoys. And on Twitter, our handle is @ReachJulieRoys. And by the way, if you’re just joining us, and maybe you missed the first half of the program, or you just want to listen back to this, I will be posting full audio of the program later today at my website, JulieRoys.com. But joining me right now in studio is a woman who has preached in a church before Dr. Lina AbuJamra, Lena is a pediatric physician. She’s also an author and the founder of Living With Power ministries. Also joining me is John Dickson, an apologist and author of Hearing Her Voice, The Case for Women Giving Sermons. And John, right before the break, you were saying, we were talking about 1 Timothy 2:11-13. And then it goes, it talks about Adam and Eve how it was the woman Eve, who was deceived first, not Adam. Many saying, “Well, that is establishing that this is not a culturally conditional kind of verse, that it’s actually for all time.” You’re saying, “Nya, I’m not so sure.” So, explain yourself
DR JOHN DICKSON: Well, I think he’s simply saying that just as the male teaching elder is to be the protector of the old traditions laid down by the apostles, so Adam was the first to receive. He’s going back to the beginning and saying, the first to receive God’s commandments, God’s oral tradition—”do not eat from that tree”—was Adam. And he was the one who heard. He was the one charged with protecting that word. And yet he didn’t step up to responsibly protect that word. And Eve was deceived. I think this has nothing to do with women being more, you know, susceptible to deception. It’s that Adam didn’t do his role of being the protector of that word given. Think that’s all Paul is saying. He’s just taking from the first example of a word given to someone to protect—the first example of that in the Bible—and saying, “Look, this is why I’m telling you now that a male teaching elder is to be the backstop for teaching, regardless of who gives sermons.”
JULIE ROYS: This is fascinating to me. I have to say I’ve studied this issue a ton. I’ve read an entire book on this one passage from the Kroger’s, who Catherine Kroger, Clark Kroger I think it is. And I remember she—this is probably a 20-25-year-old book—where she was arguing that this was a gnostic or pre-gnostic kind of understanding. I don’t know if I ever really bought that. But it seems like we’ve been arguing this passage for a really, really long time. And then yeah, the word authentien, you know, some people are saying, it’s usually translated now to assume authority. Some say it’s to exert, you know, usurp authority. Others say, “No, No, it’s just a good kind of authority.” And, again, disagreement on what that word means because I think it’s the only time that occurs in the New Testament. So, I’m curious, Lina, you stepped up. I have to admit, I’ve actually preached in the church once. But other than that, that was why only time. But you you’ve done it. You’ve preached in a church before and, you know, you must have thought long and hard, “Am I at liberty to do this or not?” I mean, how did you come down?
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Yeah, I felt called by God to teach the Bible back in 2001. And really felt like it was something that if God wants me to do, He’d open opportunity for me to do it. And I’ve sort of walked in obedience to the best of my knowledge to that calling. And it’s funny because even Beth Moore made a comment about that after the John MacArthur tape—”Go Home”—and he ridiculed her, many ridiculed her about talking about that. But really there is a specific sense of calling that happens when God calls somebody to vocational ministry, whether it’s to be a missionary, or even the calling to be a doctor. There was a specific calling on my life to teach the Bible. And then I let it go. And if I sat down with you and told you how often that calling looked like it was going to be destroyed and wasn’t, it is clear that it is a God thing, not a Lina thing. I couldn’t build it. I couldn’t think it. I couldn’t manage it. I can guarantee you that it is a God thing. So, as God opened opportunities for me to teach on Sundays, and by the way, I’ve taught on Sundays in my local church under the authority of my pastor—the current church I’m in—an as I’ve been invited, I’ve asked the discernment of the Spirit. And of course, I have a group of people that are in my life that I love and respect—including my pastor—and I felt a freedom to do so. And I think even thinking through what John, what you’re saying, I think there’s a sort of a realization that happens. We think, we get so caught up with these labels—complementarians and egalitarians—and it’s almost like we’re given two choices. It’s like you’re in a restaurant and you can order two things. And I think people forget that within the complementarian camp, there may be disagreement as to the extent of freedom. And even now, like I’ve watched—there’s a podcast that Jen Wilkin did with her church team talking about how they’ve changed their stance on what they used to believe to what they do now. And so, they still don’t hold a woman to allow her to speak on a Sunday morning church. Their definition of what a woman can do is much broader than what they would have had 10 years ago. So, I think that we forget that. And so, all of a sudden, it’s either you’re a bad guy who did this or a bad girl who preached on Sunday or you’re a good girl. You know, whatever camp you’re in, you sort of deciphered by that camp. And I think that it’s so important to hear even John’s perspective, who’s a conservative teacher to say, “Look, there may be disagreement, even in this ‘camp.’” My burden—and even just last Sunday, I spoke at a church, preached, or whatever you want to call it (I wasn’t there as a pastor, but I was there as a clear exhorter of Scripture—and I think my biggest burden in the United States right now and what grieves me and watching this discussion, take this tangent, is that there are more there is more darkness in the United States now than ever before—spiritual darkness. There are more people growing up in the church who have zero understanding and knowledge of Scripture and zero just plain knowledge. They don’t know the stories of Scripture. And so, the more we can equip and train people, to know the word of God, to trust the Lord, and then to go out and live it and teach it anywhere. I mean, that is a win for the kingdom of God. And so now to say, okay, 50% of the people who are in this church, please stop talking, to me, is a horrific thing. And by the way, coming from the Middle East, and now going to visit repeatedly and watching what women who come from a Muslim background are doing and teaching and advancing the kingdom of God . . .
JULIE ROYS: Oh, wow.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: . . . is mind boggling.
JULIE ROYS: In Iran, I know women are really the ones that are at the forefront of this explosive church growth movement. A lot of it just evangelism one-on-one. But yeah, it’s amazing, you’re right, exactly. John, I know you need to go after this break. And we only have like a minute or so left but speak to people like Lina—women who are listening who feel, “Man, I feel a passion to preach.”
DR JOHN DICKSON: Well, I think, study the Scripture. Do it humbly and prayerfully, just as a bloke should. And then find a pastor, you know, who’s open to this. And find the opportunity. Because I hate the way that women get very few opportunities. And so, when they get up to speak, it’s not as good as a man who’s had 50 opportunities. And then people use that as a reason why she shouldn’t give another sermon because that wasn’t as good as the bloke. I think that’s ridiculous. We need to jump in, practice, get the opportunities for . . . you know, at my own church, conservative churches in Sydney, we had two regular female pitches, as well as the male preachers. And they do it a lot. And they are brilliant. And the Church loves it.
JULIE ROYS: And they’re not deceived. I appreciate that. John. Thank you. And thank you for that word. I mean, it’s so true. I mean, women don’t get that much opportunity. When you do get an opportunity., you feel like, “Oh man, this is my one chance and I better not blow it.” It’s pretty tough. Again, John Dickson, thank you so much for joining us. Lina AbuJamra with me. I’m Julie Roys. You’re listening to The Roys Report. We’ll be right back after a short break.
ANNOUNCER: This is The Roys Report with Julie Roys.
JULIE ROYS: Well, should women be preachers? Or is preaching by women something that’s forbidden in the New Testament? Welcome back to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University. I’m Julie Roys. And as we’ve been discussing, this issue of women preaching has become a national discussion because of a back and forth between popular Bible teacher Beth Moore and prominent pastor John MacArthur. And we’ve been discussing, you know, “What does the Bible really say about this issue?” But what I want to do in this last segment, and again, I know there’s some people listening and they’re probably like, “Wow, she didn’t have anybody on who disagreed with women preaching.” And I do that a lot. I will have people on and we’ll debate it. And I just felt like with this issue, that’s just not what I wanted to do. I think a lot of people are very familiar with the hardline complementarian position. If you want to read something on that, I’m going to post it to my Facebook page. So, if you go to Facebook.com/ReachJulieRoys, Kevin DeYoung wrote an article actually pushing back on John Dickson’s position. And I think it’s important for us to engage with both sides, read both sides, engage with them, see what you think, and what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. And I don’t think it’s up to us to decide. I mean, I think there is one truth and we’re trying to discover it. But, you know, sometimes we do it in a broken way. But Lina, what I really connected with, with you, was the sense of calling you know, that you felt you felt called to preach. And a lot of people don’t know this about me, but I actually have preachers in my background who were women—men and women. But my grandmother on—my mother’s mother—actually was an evangelist in the poor areas of Appalachia. And she met my grandfather, because my grandfather’s sister, my Aunt Oneida—when she was 17—she came home, and she announced to her father that she had become a Christian. And my great grandfather, who was a drunk but also a physician, but he got furious and kicked her out of the house. And my grandpa—who was abused by my great grandpa—my grandpa, when he got old enough, went out with his sister and was led to the Lord by his Aunt Oneida. My Aunt Oneida became an evangelist in the poor areas of Appalachia as well, became a minister with the Wesleyan denomination—became actually a bishop in the church. My grandmother was a Dean of Women at Houghton College, which is Wesleyan tradition, they were allowed to do that. My mother schooled me in being egalitarian. Now I was egalitarian for a big part of my life until I got to the—you know, actually it was the LGBT issue that made me really press into this. And I began to say, “Well, wait a second. I’m seeing LGBT and they’re basically saying there’s absolutely no functional difference between men and women, and that we have these sex roles that are completely interchangeable.” And I had a problem with that. I said, then, you know, “That’s not quite right. We’re missing something there. Clearly in Scripture, God created male and female different.” And it started me on a journey that, you know, I document in my book Redeeming the Feminine Soul. And I come at it a little bit differently than even John does. Although I—when you look at just that 1 Timothy passage, I mean, that’s a good argument. I’m wrestling with it. But I think more just from that big picture, “Why did God create male and female? Why are we different? Why are we here?” But I remember feeling—very passionately—called to pastor. That’s what I wanted to do. Right? And when I was in my young 20s, I wanted so badly to, you know, lead people to the Lord. I mean, that’s all I wanted to do. You know, I’d come out of a real struggle with my own faith and had radically, just profoundly met the Lord. And to me, I didn’t want to do anything but church work. I didn’t want to do anything but reach people for Jesus. That’s all I wanted to do. And it’s like, “What do you do?” And I remember I had gotten into Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Northwestern University in journalism. And I talked to my mother who had gone to seminary and she said, “Julie, you’re going to go crazy in seminary. They’ll spend an entire class period, arguing about one Greek word. And you’ll be ready to just like, you know, lose yourself.” I mean, “You’ll go insane.” Because she knows my temperament. I’m an activist, you know, at heart. And that combined with I was like, “Nobody’s gonna ever hire me anyway—I’m a woman, what can I do?” And so, I ended up going into journalism as a plan B. I look now at how God has taken me. I mean, it was so funny to me, though, I mean, I was in ministry—youth ministry—for a long time. And I wasn’t allowed to preach in the church at all. But then I got on radio, and I’m on Moody Radio of all places, and now I’m speaking to, you know, thousands and thousands of people, which I’ve had opportunity to do through radio, and through writing, you know, influencing people. But again, it was like this thing on Sunday morning, “you couldn’t do that.” And I’ve wrestled with it. And I know you’ve wrestled with it to Lina. And it’s a very difficult thing. I have so much . . . I have a very good friend—she’s a pastor. And I have to say, at this point in my life, with my study, I don’t think women should be pastors. But am I going to tell her she’s not doing the work of the Lord? And she’s out there—I love her. And she’s so passionate for the Lord. She led all these people to the Lord. I just wrestle with it. I just really do.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Yeah, no question about it. And honestly, I mean, even going back to calling, though. I think for me it’s dangerous to say, or I think a difference between—in this discussion, between—even when you were talking about not having somebody who is egalitarian, in that I really felt called to preach—or to teach the Bible. I didn’t feel called to preach on Sundays.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah, right.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Do you see? And so, I really believed that God was going to open doors somewhere, anywhere. I just don’t think God was going to be constrained. And my job was to get equipped. And I think that’s huge. Because—you go back to what John was saying—I see a lot of women who stopped before they got equipped, because they’re so caught up in the debate. I was oblivious to any debate when I started serving the Lord and teaching. And I taught in a small Sunday school class and then later in a bigger Sunday school class. And I was told by a Pastor—who was very respected at the time and one of the best communicators of all time—that you need at least 500 teachings or messages before you become good at something. And I took that to heart. And so, I said yes to anything, any invitation that anybody asked me. So that I feel like I was able to develop the giftedness that God had given me. And it was clear that I had been given that giftedness. And so, I think for me, I find a lot of freedom to speak and teach in any context. And then to hold—like you could get sort of laughing about even—”Well at what age is it okay? So, you could teach up until 18. And then after high school, like something happens at 18 and a day.”
JULIE ROYS: That’s what happened with us and youth ministry.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Or, “You could teach on Wednesday nights, but on a Sunday . . .” Or you’re at a conference where like, I would watch these women who are very conservative and then they would be teaching on the radio to men and women, but it wasn’t Sunday morning. And even now—that argument—I just don’t think holds. Like if you’re going to teach men on the radio versus teaching them on Sunday morning, I don’t think there’s a big difference. The pastor role, the elder role, I believe—it’s hard for me to look at scripture and really come to a conclusion that there isn’t the pattern and a difference between the way that God created men and women. And I think I believe in headship in the home, not just in the church. And so, it is a complicated issue. It is why we’ve been arguing about it for decades.
JULIE ROYS: Well, and this is where and I agree with you. I do. That’s where I came down. And I realized, for me, one of the big things when I looked at, “Why did God create male and female?” We are to image, one, the Godhead. And I’d never heard that before. But I remember reading that and going to actually professors at Trinity. You read in Genesis, you know, “God created them, male and female in His image, He created them male and female.”
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Amen.
JULIE ROYS: So, there’s something about male and female. Then you go forward to Genesis 2:24. And you see that the two become one flesh. You know, and then that same one flesh union is referenced in Ephesians when God talks about, you know, this mystery of Christ and the church. And so, we have this, “marriage is meant to one show how the Godhead—how the Trinity—how these multiple persons become one. I’d never heard that before. But it’s good Trinitarian theology. And when you think of that—when you when you think of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when They exist together, you don’t get the sense—like when we’re talking about this—like when I heard John MacArthur—and again, a phenomenal teacher in so many ways—but I heard that. And as a woman, I don’t know how women don’t react to that.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Yeah.
JULIE ROYS: It felt demeaning. It felt so diminishing of me as a person.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Right.
JULIE ROYS: And so, I hear that, and I have a very difficult time. But you don’t sense in the Godhead—you see the Father, you know, honoring the Son, the Son glorifying the Father. You see this mutuality. And then in the in the New Testament we see that marriage, male and female, is supposed to reflect the Godhead.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Yeah
JULIE ROYS: And not just the Godhead but Christ’s relationship with the Church.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Right.
JULIE ROYS: And you see Christ—what does He do? He gives Himself up for the Bride, right? And we receive Him. But there’s a difference. There is a difference. You know God, to me, is always masculine in relation to us—because He always initiates, we always receive. I don’t think Christ could be the Bride as much as he could be the Bridegroom . . .
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Right.
JULIE ROYSs: . . . because the bridegroom initiates. And we see that even in our bodies. That’s how we’re built. There’s a difference between male and female. So, I think that’s so important. And I love that you’re not undermining that. And I don’t undermine it. In fact, I think it’s so important. And today, that confusion, you know, it’s so sad.
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: Well and there’s a point where it can become such a focus for some women, where it’s like a deal breaker. Like, “If I don’t get to teach on Sunday, then I’m out.” And I think that’s always a good test. Like honestly, if somebody came to me said, “Hey, you can’t teach anymore.” Let’s just say the Lord really spoke to my heart, my ministry would not stop!” I’m not serving the Lord in order to teach on Sunday. Again, you go back to like, I’m happy holding a door for people to walk [in.]
I don’t care what I do in the kingdom of God. I really don’t. And the older I get, the more convinced I am of that. And I think if we have men and women who ultimately, that is their ultimate thing, is, “God, I’m going to serve You no matter what You want. And I don’t care if it’s the head Pastor of a church or the head Usher, or the guy who cooks.” Stephen was called the clean house, you know, and to take care of the widows. And yet he was the first one to give his life for the gospel. So I think you see this willingness for men and women to do whatever it is that God has called them to do, no matter what public opinion that the way of the day. And then just trust God to open those opportunities. And do the best you can to honor the Lord and honor his word and honor the structure you’re in. Maybe you are in a conservative church right now, or maybe you’re not. And so sort of be willing—and I will use the word, “submissive”—to please God has you in. And if it’s a place where you can’t bear it anymore, find somewhere else. Do what you need to do to flourish in the kingdom. But my two cents worth as you know, we come to the end of this program is don’t let it ruin your faith. And I’ve watched so many women, now in their 20s and 30s, who want to teach God’s word, whose faith is being hit because of this argument. And if you could just take your eyes off of the debate and just focus on growing in your giftedness and your relationship with the Lord and hearing the voice of God in your life through His Word, I think how much more freedom you’d experience.
JULIE ROYS: Well, and it’s so important that we worship Christ and Him alone. And we recognize I mean, if anything, you know, the past several years have shown me, “Yeah, we’re broken.” And the church, we don’t reflect everything perfectly. And I appreciate that admonition. And I just, you know, we don’t have much time, but I know it’s—we’re coming back to this. I do think that what we’re reacting to, often in the church, isn’t so much the theology again. But there is I think, a latent misogyny. And some of what John MacArthur said about kindness and compassion, these being weaknesses, and something that might lead women to deception.
I mean, was Jesus not? It’s kindness and compassion. I mean, are these not fruits of the Spirit? Is this not something that that Jesus exhibited? And I just fear—and I would just say to men listening—think about your theology. But also think about your biases. Or, “What’s happening in there?” Or, “Do you honor women?”
LINA ABUJAMRA MD: And the concept, like I feel more scared to show up to heaven—like say I had a gift to teach and I never did anything with it. I always felt compelled by the passage of scripture that says, “Take your talent and use it.” Like, what am I going to do? Bury it? And that’s the person that, when the Lord goes through the parable of the talents, use what God has given you. And I think that was always something that I think was so important to me as I was developing in the gift of teaching. And I think still that there’s so much distraction happening in the Evangelical Church right now. I mean, at the end of the day, if we believe in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, I mean, Beth Moore might be John MacArthur’s neighbor in heaven.
JULIE ROYS: Love that. You know what, we’re all going to live together in heaven. So, we better learn to get along. Hey, men, bless the women. Women, bless the men. Let’s not have a battle between us. Let’s have love. Let’s have affirmation. Let’s show the world what the church is supposed to look like. Thanks again. Lina AbuJamra. I’m Julie Roys. You’ve been listening to The Roys Report. Have a great weekend and God bless.